With 6th some months upon us, I felt it time to begin dismantling my latest army project: Necrons. This will be much akin to Godfrey's systematic review of his beloved Templar codex that he did some time ago. The reason for my delay in finally tacking this project has been the need to digest 6th and let the dust settle so as to get the most effective review possible. I'll be going section by section, hoping to have a new post every week until the book is laid bare and we can all poke our heads in and examine the machine at its barest of levels.
For starters, the fluff for the codex has been re-done. No longer do we have the terminator-daleks who know naught but servitude to their Lovecraftian gods, the C'Tan. Instead, we see the Necrontyr, a race locked in a struggle with the Old Ones for control of the galaxy. In order to defeat them, they sell their allegiance to the C'Tan, thinking that these beings will grant them the power and eternal life they so desire. The C'Tan however, turn them into the Necrons, cursing them with a horrible eternal unlife. The Silent King finishes waging his war against the Old Ones and then turns his gaze to the gods who tricked his people.
The Necrons best the C'Tan and shatter their essence, taking their shards to use as war constructs in the coming eons. However, two wars have left the Necrons weak and they retreat to their tomb worlds where they sleep for countless millennium, lest the last creations of the Old Ones, the Eldar, rise to their task of striking down the Necron race.
At last, the tomb worlds reawaken, disdainful of a galaxy bent on annihilation which has naught to show for their civilizations but ashes and ruination. The Necrons take up arms to enslave the galaxy so that it may know peace and they they may find a way to regain thier flesh and blood forms and earn the eternal life they were promised countless eons ago.
The army has returned to strong Egyptian themes and is based around tomb worlds acting as parts of larger dynasties where a highly stratified class system defines roles and mental faculties of the Necrons. Furthermore, many rules and units have come to be that are designed to reflect the Necrontyr's mastery of technology.
Naturally, the first place to start is the USRs for the codex.
Reamimation Protocols: This is basically a modified FnP that every non-vehicle and non-Canoptek unit in the codex has. The reason I call it a modified FnP is that both rolls are on a base 5+ after a save is failed. RP however, is never negated by instant death, which is great. The trade off is that if the squad falls back or is ever completely destroyed, they do not get to roll for RP at the end of the phase, thus making it essential for opponents to try to hammer through your units one squad at a time. This can be tiresome and almost impossible at times though, due to the high durability of Necron units.
Ever-Living: This rule is a supplement to RP and applies to your HQ and his court. The gist of it is that you can always claim ever living. Always.
Entropic Strike: This rule happens between to hit rolls and armor penetration rolls against tanks and says for each hit, roll a die, on a 4+, that vehicle loses 1 point of armor on all facings for the rest of the game. A vehicle with armor 0 on any facing is immediately wrecked. Furthermore, any model failing a save against a wound with this rule has its save reduced to a "-" for the rest of the game.
Living Metal: This is the Necron version of Fortitude or Daemonic Possession and grants their vehicles a 2+ save against crew stunned and a 4+ save against crew shaken.
Otherwise, this codex is fairly MEQ in that is extremely durable and highly skilled. Most models are WS, BS, S, and T 4. They usually have good saves. The way that the codex keeps its points down is that it is all but universally I 2, giving it a massive vulnerability to sweeping advances.
Another major player in the book are its wargear special rules, tesla and gauss. The Necrontyr, being possessed of a mastery of technology that not even the ancient Eldar can rival, have harnessed raw elements of nature and hyper-charged particles to power their alien weapons.
Tesla: These weapons cause two additional hits on every to hit roll of 6.
Gauss: These weapons automatically cause a single lancing hit on an armor penetration roll of 6, unless such a roll would otherwise yield a penetrating hit.
Next, we'll move on to the "build your own" HQ choices and the court of the overlord before we discuss special characters next week. The reason for this is so that we can examine the wargear options for HQs prior to looking at the characters, so that we have an idea of what we're spending points on in the form of special rules.
Necron Overlord: First and foremost what you'll notice with this guy is that he is a steal, starting at only 90 points. This is to accommodate wargear selection, which features plenty of options, but they can get expensive quickly. The biggest things to note with the stat line is that the "Overlord chassis" is strength and toughness 5. This is huge and really helps you juke those pesky power fists and thunder hammers. Sure, they'll deny your bast 3+ save, but they don't instant death you, which is nice. Also, the Overlord begins the game with a staff of light, which is an assault 3, 12", S5 AP3 gun. It's a tad basic, but it's nothing to scoff at, and given that almost everything in the codex says "avoid assault when possible", it's a reasonable option to hold on to if you're looking to keep the overlord cheap.
Options: The first entry here is the ability to upgrade to phaeron, something that was great in 5th because for a meager 20 points, you could give large warriors blobs relentless, which was fantastic. With the rapid fire rework though, the only option phaeron seems to allow for anymore is assaulting after you shoot, which oftentimes you don't really want to do. Next, you can exchange the staff of light for a hyperphase (power) sword for free. Not a bad option strictly speaking, but when you compare it to the 10 point warscythe, it's kind of lousy. That's right though, the warscythe is only 10 points. You forgo your shooting capacity to get a weapon which makes you strength 7, AP1, and gives you armorbane. The warscythe is amazing if you have the points to spare, in no small part because it lets you to attack at your initiative of 2. Sure, you won't instant death that space marine, but he probably can't instant death you either, which is a fair trade. Other staff of light swaps are the gauntlet of fire (a flamer) at 5 points or a void blade (which gives you rending and entropic strike) at 10 points. To me, the only real loser on this list is the void blade, simply because it costs more than a hyperphase sword and doesn't live up to the awesome power of a warscythe which has the same cost.
Moving on we see the phylactery, which the first time you pass your resurrection protocols, returns you to play with d3 wounds instead of just 1. At 15 points, this feels too situational and a total loser to me. Maybe if it added d2 to what you got when you stood back up, this would be worth examining for challenge lords and barge lords, but it doesn't. Next come mindshackle scarabs, which are great if you plan on hitting close combat and issuing or accepting challenges. They force a random model in base with the equipped model to take a leadership test on 3d6 and should they fail, they cause d3 hits against their own unit, using their best possible wargear. Can anyone say "quit hitting yourself"? These are rather pricey though for a potentially situational item at 15 points. More useful for that same 15 points is the Sempiternal Weave which confers a 2+ save, something that's a big winner this edition, especially on a tough 5, 3 wound model with a 2+ look out, sir! Onward, there is the 20 point tesseract labrynth, which once per game forces a single model in base contact be forced to take a test based on its current number of wounds or be removed as a casualty, with no saves of any kind allowed. Cool for winning challenges against those pesky librarians but less than stellar against units with multiple characters or monstrous creatures. Next is the tachyon arrow, which is a strength 10, AP 1, single shot weapon. Which at 30 points, is rather haphazard on a BS4 model. If you've got the points, it's not completely terrible though, but with this book, rare is the occasion upon which you will have the points. Then there is the resurrection orb, which for 30 points allows the squad it is attached to take its resurrection protocols rolls on a 4+ instead of a 5+. This is great for large warrior blocks, but less stellar for MSU minded lists. It's salty but if you capitalize on it, it'll be worth it most every time. Last but not least, comes the 45 point phase shifter, a hands free storm shield. This is really really expensive and should only be considered if you plan on facing down lots of strength 10 AP2 shots or attacks that you can't just throw the attached squad in front of or you plan on being very very aggressive with a barge.
The final option comes in the form of a dedicated transport: the Catacomb Command Barge; or as Heretic once humorously named it: the Douche Canoe. This is an 80 point chariot which is a fast, open topped skimmer with quantum shielding (giving it front and side AV 13 until it suffers its first penetrating hit), living metal, and symbiotic repair, which allows the embarked overlord to trade his wounds in to repair immobilized or weapon destroyed results, so long as he does not give his life in the process. If you're okay forgoing the buffs an overlord can share with the rest of his army, this is a fine option, if expensive and requiring proper support. It can't hold up to being the only thing to move forward, but the sweep attacks are deadly and the close combat benefits are undeniable.
The Court: Here is where you can waste all those lovely points you saved on your overlord. I say waste because it's easy to get carried away with this unit, throw a ton of points into it, and wonder where they went and what happened. The court acts similarly to the Wolf Guard from Space Wolves. They start the game with any number of models breaking off to lead warriors, immortals, lychguard, or deathmarks. The big thing to remember here is that all these models are from your HQ slot and thus have ever-living.
Lords: These are just like daddy, except they cost a base 35 points and only have 1 wound. Furthermore, they cannot bring a phylactery (duh) or a tachyon arrow (no 10 1 alpha salvos). Excellent outlets for more resurrection orbs and warscythes than you can shake a stick at, because dad can't look after all the kids at once.
Crypteks: These are almost the most customizable and unique models in the Necron codex, trailing the lords only by a hair. They are an amazing swiss army knife of interesting tricks, despite being only a "warrior chassis". Here, we'll break them down by discipline.
Despair: These are focused around leadership and stealth. Upgrading to one costs 5 points and replaces your staff of light for a strength 8 AP1 flamer which rolls to wound against leadership. In non-marine heavy play areas, this weapon is bound to see lots of play and even in marine environments, it will see play because of one of the unique upgrades for the discipline, the veil of darkness. The veil is a 30 point upgrade that allows the attached squad to be able to deep strike every turn. The price is stiff but many may find the mobility worth it. The other option for this discipline is the nightmare shroud which for 10 points, forces a leadership test on a unit within 18" instead of the cryptek shooting his abyssal staff. In non marine environments, this combo is devastating, forcing morale checks every turn until you can scramble their fear racked minds.
Destruction: For 10 points, your cryptek can replace his staff for an eldritch lance which is a 36" 8 2 assault weapon. It's the krak missile of the Necron army. Good at hitting tanks as you gauss them down, capable of instant death-ing MEQ, it's a solid choice. Furthermore, the discipline allows you to bring defensive grenades for 10 points and/or a solar pulse for 20. Defensive grenades aren't a bad choice, especially if you want to minimalize the threat of being assaulted and subsequently swept for those potentially large warrior blobs. Finally, the big piece of gear for this discipline is the Solar Pulse. For 20 points, you can turn the lights on or off for a player turn. This is somewhat better than last edition given that sighting distances have gone the way of the dodo and have been replaced by scaling cover saves which push all the way into invisibility. If you're running your Necrons with close to midrange shooting in mind, this piece of wargear is probably in your army. Other options and uses for this item will be discussed in next week's character segment.
Eternity: For free, you can swap your staff of light for an aeonstave, a piece of wargear which if it causes an unsaved wound, reduces the afflicted model's WS, BS, I, and attacks all to 1 for the remainder of the game, in addition to stripping them of fleet. On a 1 attack strength 4 model, this thing had better be free, especially since it takes your staff of light. The real reason this guy shows up though is for the 15 point chronometron, a piece of archeotech which allows the attached squad to re-roll any one single die every phase. This can be big for trying to land a tachyon arrow or enable certain character tricks. The final option here is a 30 point timesplinter cloak, which is a storm shield. Extremely expensive, given that it costs more than the model it is designed to protect.
Storm: This discipline has been given new life with the rise of 6th edition and hull points. For free, you exchange your staff of light with a voltaic staff. This 12" gun is strength 5, ap -, assault 4 and haywire. That's right, haywire on an assault 4. Two of these are all but guaranteed to wreck any vehicle in the game. And it's a free upgrade. You have to get dangerously close, but the rewards will often be well worth it. For 10 points, you can buy a lightning field which causes d6 strength 8 ap 5 hits to any unit which successfully charges the cryptek's squad. This happens in addition to overwatch shooting and before blows are struck. It's a huge deterrent to assaulting the unit that just tazer'd an expensive tank. The final option here is an ether crystal for 15 points which hits enemy units deep striking within 6" of the cryptek's unit with a lightning field. It's solid, but not a "must take" for the points you're sinking into it.
Transmorgification: This final discipline enables the "angry earth" list which was batted about at the release of the codex, which will be touched on later in this series of articles. For 5 points, you swap your staff with a 36" 4 - small blast which "quakes" units it hits into difficult terrain during their next movement phase. This sets a precedent for the next piece of wargear which is designed to keep the other guy as far away from you as possible: the 10 point seismic crucible, which reduces the charge distance of any enemy unit by d3". It was bigger in 5th than it is now, but it's still a potent force for keeping the other guy's forces from punching you in the face. Last comes the harp of dissonance for 25 points. This weapon has infinite range, is strength 6 and ap - and has entropic strike. Great for "harping" on light mech, but less potent with the advent of hull points and their interaction with gauss.
Destroyer Lord: Starts at 125 points, but comes with a warscythe and is a whopping T 6. He's also jump infantry. He's foregone his court and Catacomb Command Barge options to become a destroyer, which also grants him Preferred Enemy (Everything!) which he confers to any unit he joins. He also cannot take a hyperphase sword (why would you), a phylactery (darn?), a tesseract labrynth (he'll live), or a phase shifter (the only one that matters, but when you're T 6, who cares). This guy is a great option if you've already got a regular overlord. More than 1 court can quickly become overly expensive and this guy can do a lot for your army. Jump around with a res orb for fellow destroyer bretheren, guide large warrior blobs, or drive headlong at the enemy when accompanied by wraiths. I wouldn't bring him as a second HQ until at least 1850 or 2k, but if you're okay forgoing the court and the chariot, this guy is damn good.
That was a thick mess and I'll give you readers a good week or so to digest it before we dive into the other core of the army, the troops and dedicated transports. We'll be back!